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David Moon
Anniversary Professor of History



BA (Newcastle), PhD (Birmingham), FRHS

David Moon is Anniversary Professor in History. His main expertise is in Russian history. His interests have broadened and he currently works on Russian, Ukrainian, Eurasian, North American, and transnational environmental history. His most recent books are The Plough that Broke the Steppes: Agriculture and Environment on Russia’s Grasslands, 1700-1914 (OUP, 2013) and Local Places, Global Processes: Histories of Environmental Change in Britain and Beyond (Windgather, 2016), which was co-edited with Peter Coates and Paul Warde.

Before moving to York in 2012, he held posts at universities in the north of England and west of Scotland, but began his career as a temporary lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin. His postgraduate studies included a year at Leningrad State University in the Soviet Union in 1985-6. He has held fellowships and visiting positions in the USA, Russia, Finland, and Germany. In 2018-19 he is visiting professor at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan.



The main focus of David’s research has been the rural world of the Russian Empire from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. His initial work was on social history, but over a decade and a half ago he moved into environmental history. In recent years, his work has become increasingly transnational to include North America.

His work on environmental history considers the interrelationship between the human and non-human worlds, and how people have understood this interrelationship, over time. As well as conventional historical research in archives and libraries, he takes part in field trips to explore the environments he is researching and to engage with scientists who study them and people who live and work in them.

In 2013-16 was was lead investigator on a Leverhulme International Network: ‘Exploring Russia’s Environmental History and Natural Resources’, including specialists from UK, US and Russian universities, which involved annual field trips to key locations in Russia and Ukraine. The network is producing a collection of essays on their work.

In addition, he is exploring parallels and connections between the steppes of Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan and the Great Plains of North America: regions with similar environments and environmental histories. In 2015-17 he held a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for a project entitled 'The Amerikan Steppes: Russian Influences on the Great Plains'. He is completing a monograph for Cambridge University Press’s ‘Studies in Environment and History’ series.

His current transnational research builds on his last monograph: The Plough that Broke the Steppes: Agriculture and Environment on Russia’s Grasslands, 1700-1914 (OUP, 2013). It was selected as one of ten history books of the year for 2013 by the Financial Times and was the winner of the Alexander Nove Prize in Russian, Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies awarded by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies for 2013.

Read his blog about the book at:

He has also been involved in a collaborative research project on environmental history in Britain, leading to the publication of a book, co-edited with Peter Coates and Paul Warde: Local Places, Global Processes: Histories of Environmental Change in Britain and Beyond (Windgather, 2016).

His research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Academy, the Carnegie Trust, the Leverhulme Trust and the Santander Bank. He has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2008-9), the Kennan Institute in Washington, DC (2007), and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich (2017), and been a visiting researcher at several universities in Russia. He makes regular trips for research, speaking engagements, and teaching, to Russia, Finland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the USA, and Canada.


David has experience of supervising a fairly broad range of topics in modern history and would particularly welcome enquiries from students wishing to conduct research in environmental history.




Contact details

Professor David Moon
Vanbrugh College
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: Internal 3603, External (01904) 323603

Student hours

External activities


Academic Societies

David is an active member and current or former office holder of:

The European Society for Environmental History  

The British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies

Editorial Boards

Environment and History

Jahrbuch für Geschichte des ländlichen Raumes/Rural History Yearbook

Media coverage

David has periodically worked with the media in Britain and overseas.

In 2016-17 he was a historical advisor for a segment of a TV documentary, ‘America: The Promised Land’, shown on the History Channel in the USA.